With a flu pandemic hitting the UK and Ireland at the minute a lot of people are asking themselves the question “To train or not to train? That is the question”. I consulted my local GP in order to write this blog. I hope this blog answers this common question!

Gyms breeding grounds for germs, so a word of warning: If you are sneezing and wiping your nose every couple of minutes in the gym, you will get the death stare.

The good news is you’re not likely to die because you insist on a set with the sniffles but you may pay the price for a circuit while you’ve got the flu.

Symptoms: You wake up with a stuffy nose and your head is fuzzy!

GPs Opinion:

Anything at or above throat level generally gives a nod to training. Studies have shown that a moderate amount of exercise can help boost the function of the immune system and aid in recovering from many types of illness. But some illness demands couch, not gym time. Head colds are some of the safest for exercise. To tell a cold from something more serious, look for congested sinuses, a sore neck and raw throat. If you have these symptoms please stay on the couch and get some rest and enjoy a Box Set. The advice is that exercise during any illness should be scaled back in intensity and/or duration.

Symptoms: Your chest sounds like a rattlesnake and your muscles ache (And not from the gym!)

GPs Opinion:

After one prolonged vigorous exercise session we’re more susceptible to infection.For example, running a marathon may temporarily depress the adaptive immune system for up to 72 hours. This is why so many endurance athletes get sick right after races.

However, one brief vigorous exercise session doesn’t cause the same immune-suppressing effect. Further, just one moderate intensity exercise session can actually boost immunity in healthy people.

If you are feeling ill please give your body a couple of days to get over the worst of the sickness, and then get back to extremely light workouts. If your temperature remains at or above 37.5 degrees Celsius, you’re not ready to return to the gym.

Symptoms: You have no energy

GPs Opinion:

After the initial shock your body takes when you get sick, when your body moves into the ‘getting over’ part of it, exercise will be a big help. That’s not a cue for a HIIT circuit or to try and run 10km, though. Since the research supports getting a moderate amount of exercise, simply modify your program to fit this. More of something good is not always better. Neither high intensity exercise nor doing nothing at all will help you recover. Keep your body ticking over!


Go ahead:

  • sinus congestion
  • runny nose and/or sneezing
  • sore throat

Back to bed:

  • temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius, possibly interspersed with chills
  • excessive tiredness not explained by activity level
  • wheezing or tight chest
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • body aches

If you have any questions on this blog please feel free to contact me on my Instagram page @shanewalshfitness or if you are looking at getting into shape in 2018 please contact me directly on shanewalshfitness@gmail.com and I can draw up a plan that will suit you.